Study on Gender and Livelihoods Impacts of Clean Cookstoves in South Asia

A study that measured the use of improved cookstoves in India, Bangladesh and Nepal found that women spend the equivalent of more than two weeks each year collecting firewood in India. Households using cleaner, more efficient cookstoves saved significant amounts of time and used less fuel than those using traditional stoves. Women who saved time reported spending more time to increase involvement in social and family activities, including spending time with children and monitoring their studies.

Some of the key findings included:

  • On average, women spend approximately 374 hours every year collecting firewood in India.
  • Women with improved cookstoves save 70 hours per year.
  • Female-headed households are more likely to adopt cleaner cooking solutions than male-headed households.
  • Women who are part of social groups are more likely to own an improved cookstove or use cleaner fuels.
  • Women spend 4 hours every day cooking when using traditional stoves. They can save 1 hour and 10 minutes when using a clean cookstove.
  • time was used to increase involvement in social and family activities, attend community meetings, meet friends and relatives, watch television, and spend time with children and monitor their studies.
  • Households with clean cookstoves reported sending their children to school more often.

This study, Gender and Livelihoods Impacts of Clean Cookstoves in South Asia, which was carried out by Practical Action and was commissioned by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (Alliance), analyzes the gender impacts of clean cooking solutions on households that have adopted them, as well as women’s current and potential involvement in improved cookstoves market systems in each of the three South Asian countries. This study focuses primarily on improved biomass cookstoves, but also analyzes the use of other cooking solutions, including kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

In South Asia, women play a significant and dominant role within the household cooking sector. Generally women do most of the cooking and, therefore, are disproportionately affected by household air pollution (HAP) caused by the inefficient burning of solid biomass cooking fuels. They are also required to spend a significant amount of time and effort collecting the traditionally used biomass fuels, a physically draining task that can take up to 20 or more hours per week.

The governments of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh have recognized that the burning of solid biomass fuels in household kitchens is a significant environmental and health problem in their respective countries and that women can play a key role in efficiently and effectively overcoming this problem. The Alliance has also recognized the central role that women play in meeting its sector-wide target of 100 million households adopting clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels by 2020; and that achieving this goal is dependent on the full inclusion of women throughout the entire value chain. This research was commissioned by the Alliance to help build a body of evidence around gender, economic empowerment, and livelihoods in the improved cookstove and fuel sectors within South Asia.

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